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Date: 2020
Abstract: В статье рассматриваются глубинные изменения, которым подверглась еврейская идентичность и культурная память в России, в том числе произошедшие советский и пост-советский периоды. Основываясь главным образом на результатах своих полевых исследований, проводившихся с 1999г. в ряде российских городов, я при-хожу к выводу, что у людей еврейского происхождения в России отсутствует еди-ная культурная самоидентификация, но что она имеет поливариантный характер.При этом некоторые типы самоидентификации не включают в себя символы ицен-ности, характерные для еврейской культурной традиции (или включают их частич-но).Глубокие трансформации еврейской идентичностив XXв. привели к тому, что и еврейская культурная память в нашей стране тоже имеет диверсифицированный характер. За последние два-три десятилетия в России наблюдается конструирова-ние «новой еврейской» самоидентификации и культурной памяти, которые зиждут-ся на позитивных ценностях–как религиозных, так и светских. Ведущая роль в этом процессе принадлежит различным еврейским религиозным и светским струк-турам.
Author(s): Rock, Jonna
Date: 2018
Abstract: This article highlights issues pertaining to the Sephardim ([-im] is the masculine plural Hebrew ending and Sepharad is the Hebrew name for Spain. Sephardim thus literally means the Jews of Spain) in Sarajevo from the time of their arrival in the Ottoman Empire in the late fifteenth century until the present day. I describe the status quo for the Sephardi minority in post-Ottoman Sarajevo, in the first and second Yugoslavia, and in today’s post-Communist Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The objective is to shed light on how historic preconditions have influenced identity formation as it expresses itself from a Sephardic perspective. The aim is moreover to generate knowledge of the circumstances that affected how Sephardim came to understand themselves in terms of their Jewish identification. I present empirical findings from my semi-structured interviews with Sarajevo Sephardim of different generations (2015 and 2016). I argue that while none of the interlocutors conceive of Jewish identification as divergent from halachic interpretations of matrilineal descent, they moreover propose other conceptions of what it means to be Jewish, such as celebrating Shabbat and other Jewish holidays, and other patterns of socialization. At the same time, these individuals also assert alternative forms of being Bosnian, one that includes multiple ethnicities, and multiple religious ascriptions. This study elucidates a little-explored history and sheds light on the ways in which historical conditions have shaped contemporary, layered framings of identification among Sarajevo’s current Jewish population. This article is relevant for those interested in contemporary Sephardic Bosnian culture and in the role and function of ideology in creating conditions for identity formation and transformation.
Author(s): Minerbi, Sergio I.
Date: 2003
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to analyze and confute some of the arguments recently put forward by important Italian intellectuals against Jews and against Israel. Neo anti-Semitism camouflaged as anti-Zionism is spreading in Italy today. Three main examples of this phenomenon are given: Sergio Romano, Alberto Asor Rosa, and Barbara Spinelli. Romano claims that the memory of the Shoah has become an insurance policy and is used by Israel as a diplomatic weapon, while Israel itself is "a war-mongering, imperialist, arrogant nation" and "an unscrupulous liar." Asor Rosa claims that Israel "developed a marvelous army" but at the same time "the tradition and thinking melted away," while Israel affirms, he writes, "the racial superiority of the Jewish people." For Barbara Spinelli: "Israel constitutes a scandal" for the way in which Moses' religion validates "rights which are often meta-historical" and "linked to sacred texts." Spinelli thinks that Israel should express its culpability to Palestinians and Islam. She goes as far as stating that some Israelis dream "of a sort of second holocaust." She also attacks the "double and contradictory loyalty" of the Jews. There is a short analysis of the Italian press and of the stand of the Catholic Church. The lynch in Ramallah is discussed, as well as the declarations of Ambassador Vento. The author also raises the question of school textbooks, the boycott against Israeli universities, and the existence of other voices, very different from the ones mentioned above.
Author(s): Critchell, Kara
Date: 2020
Author(s): Schlör, Joachim
Date: 2014
Date: 2016
Abstract: Objective: To explore determinants of participation in breast cancer screening in orthodox Jewish women living in Antwerp, Belgium, and to uncover their opinions and attitudes towards screening, and thereby to detect ways to optimize participation. Study design: Focus group discussions were performed during the last months of 2011 and the first half of 2012 to explore motivation to participate or not in breast cancer screening. Groups consisted of five to seven women. Inclusion criteria were: being female, considering oneself as orthodox Jewish, aged between 50 and 69 years. Results: Three focus group discussions with in a total of 20 women had taken place. All participants in the focus group discussions had a screening mammography taken on a regular base. All participants agreed that the social cohesion between Jewish orthodox women and the importance that is given to healthcare within the Jewish tradition are important contributors to their participation in a breast cancer screening program. Pain, lack of information during the exam, lack of confidence in the quality of the exam, perceived problems when the examining doctor/technician is male, and fear of the results are mentioned as barriers. The participants, however, state that these were not important enough to result in non-participation. Barriers could be diminished by information sessions specifically aimed at orthodox Jewish women. Conclusion: This qualitative research demonstrates a generally positive attitude of orthodox Jewish women living in Antwerp, Belgium, towards mammographic breast cancer screening. Increased and repeated structured information sessions are likely to improve breast cancer awareness in this population.
Date: 2020
Date: 2021
Abstract: Background: The importance of community involvement in the response against disease outbreaks has been well established. However, we lack insights into local communities’ experiences in coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic. This study explored both the impact of, and response to, COVID-19 within the Orthodox Jewish communities of Antwerp (Belgium) during the first lockdown period (March 2020 – May 2020).

Methods: We conducted an explorative qualitative study using a participatory approach. First, we performed a community mapping to identify relevant stakeholders. Through the active involvement of a community advisory board and based on qualitative interviews with key-informants and community members, we elicited lived experiences, attitudes, and perceptions towards COVID-19. Interviews were conducted both face-to-face and using online web conferencing technology. Data were analyzed inductively according to the principles of thematic analysis.

Results: Government-issued outbreak control measures presented context-specific challenges to the Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp. They related mainly to the remote organization of religious life, and practicing physical distancing in socially and culturally strongly connected communities. Key informants described how existing community resources were rapidly mobilized to adapt to the outbreak and to self-organize response initiatives within communities. This included the active involvement of community and religious leaders in risk communication, which proved to be of great importance to facilitate coverage and uptake of pandemic control measures while protecting essential community values and traditions. Creating bottom-up and community-adapted communication strategies, including addressing language barriers and involving Rabbis in the dissemination of prevention messages, fostered a feeling of trust in government’s response measures. However, unmet information and prevention needs were also identified, such as the need for inclusive communication by public authorities and the need to mitigate the negative effects of stigmatization.

Conclusion: The experiences of Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp demonstrate a valuable example of a feasible community-centered approach to health emergencies. Increasing the engagement of communities in local decision-making and governance structures remains a key strategy to respond to unmet information and prevention needs.
Date: 2021
Abstract: Background Ethnic and religious minorities have been disproportionately affected by SARS-CoV-2 worldwide. The UK strictly-Orthodox Jewish community has been severely affected by the pandemic. This group shares characteristics with other ethnic minorities including larger family sizes, higher rates of household crowding and relative socioeconomic deprivation. We studied a UK strictly-Orthodox Jewish population to understand how COVID-19 had spread within this community.

Methods We performed a household-focused cross-sectional SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey specific to three antigen targets. Randomly-selected households completed a standardised questionnaire and underwent serological testing with a multiplex assay for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. We report clinical illness and testing before the serosurvey, seroprevalence stratified by age and gender. We used random-effects models to identify factors associated with infection and antibody titres.

Findings A total of 343 households, consisting of 1,759 individuals, were recruited. Serum was available for 1,242 participants. The overall seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 was 64.3% (95% CI 61.6-67.0%). The lowest seroprevalence was 27.6% in children under 5 years and rose to 73.8% in secondary school children and 74% in adults. Antibody titres were higher in symptomatic individuals and declined over time since reported COVID-19 symptoms, with the decline more marked for nucleocapsid titres.

Interpretation In this tight-knit religious minority population in the UK, we report one of the highest SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence levels in the world to date. In the context of this high force of infection, all age groups experienced a high burden of infection. Actions to reduce the burden of disease in this and other minority populations are urgently required.

Funding This work was jointly funded by UKRI and NIHR [COV0335; MR/V027956/1], a donation from the LSHTM Alumni COVID-19 response fund, HDR UK, the MRC and the Wellcome Trust. The funders had no role in the design, conduct or analysis of the study or the decision to publish. The authors have no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

Evidence before the study In January 2020, we searched PubMed for articles on rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst ethnic minority groups and amongst the Jewish population. Search teams included “COVID-19”, “SARS-CoV-2”, seroprevalence, “ethnic minority”, and “Jewish” with no language restrictions. We also searched UK government documents on SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst minority groups. By January 2020, a large number of authors had reported that ethnic minority groups experienced higher numbers of cases and increased hospitalisations due to COVID-19. A small number of articles provided evidence that strictly-Orthodox Jewish populations had experienced a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection but extremely limited data was available on overall population level rates of infection amongst specific ethnic minority population groups. There was also extremely limited data on rates of infection amongst young children from ethnic minority groups.

Added value of the study We report findings from a population representative, household survey of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst a UK strictly Orthodox Jewish population. We demonstrate an extremely high seroprevalence rate of SARS-CoV-2 in this population which is more than five times the estimated seroprevalence nationally and five times the estimated seroprevalence in London. In addition the large number of children in our survey, reflective of the underlying population structure, allows us to demonstrate that in this setting there is a significant burden of disease in all age groups with secondary school aged children having an equivalent seroprevalence to adults.

Implications of the available evidence Our data provide clear evidence of the markedly disproportionate impact of SARS-CoV-2 in minority populations. In this setting infection occurs at high rates across all age groups including pre-school, primary school and secondary school-age children. Contextually appropriate measures to specifically reduce the impact of SARS-CoV-2 amongst minority populations are urgently required.
Author(s): Yakimenko, Svetlana
Date: 2016
Abstract: Since 1989 Project Kesher has worked bringing women together, creating a network of Jewish women, helping women who knew nothing or very little about what it means to be Jewish, not only to become Jewish, but to create and strengthen Jewish community life in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. We shared success and analyzed the changes. We felt that we were one people.

Due to the present political crises we lost our vision as one Jewish people, we became divided. It was clear Project Kesher needed to take action. We started with International Skype calls. Every evening one woman from Russia, one from Ukraine, one from Belarus, one from Israel called a woman in another country: talking, sharing our love and support, wishing peace. When women started calling each other again and restoring broken relationships we saw that “KESHER” – connection – is working.

One day when there was a serious military clash in the area where she lived one of our leaders proposed to read Tehilim (Psalms), as prayers for peace. Soon more than one hundred women were reading Psalms, creating a chain of peace. Such a spirit of peace prevailed even at a time when the air was filled with war.

In Russia there are refugee families from different regions of the Ukraine. Sometimes they lost everything. Project Kesher women’s groups in cooperation with other Jewish organizations collected clothes, foot-wear as well as school-bags, school record books, sketchbooks, colored paper, paperboard, plasticine, pencil boxes, paints and markers for refugee children. Project Kesher activists also actively participated in organizing camps for refugees in Kharkiv and the Dnipropretrovsk region (Ukraine).

In times of conflict the wish to live in peace is not enough. Women needed instruments for conflict resolution. Project Kesher developed a unique leadership training program with the aim to enable the participants to conduct trainings in conflict resolution themselves in Jewish communities and partner organizations and to engage in mediation. These trainings are often based on Jewish tradition and text study.

A special event is Project Kesher’s Global Women’s Seder that was celebrated in 2015 for the 21st time. No less than 2500 members of 140 Project Kesher women’s and youth groups in 110 cities and five countries – Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Russia and the Ukraine – participated this year. The participants spoke about peace and declared that they intended to do everything possible to maintain peace in their families and in society. With the energy it sets free Project Kesher continues to initiate positive changes.
Author(s): Graff, Agnieszka
Date: 2018
Author(s): Bronec, Jakub
Date: 2019
Author(s): Kranz, Dani
Date: 2021
Date: 2020
Abstract: The 2015 Spanish and Portuguese nationality laws for descendants of Sephardi Jews are unusual in their motivation to redress wrongs committed more than half a millennium ago. Both have enabled descendants of those Sephardi Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, or forced to convert to Christianity, to claim citizenship status through naturalization. The laws have elicited ancestral and contemporary stories that speak to the personal and social meanings applicants give to these citizenships. Through extensive oral histories with fifty-five applicants across four continents, we examine our narrators’ views on the laws’ deep roots in a genealogical concept of belonging, based on familial and biological heritage and the persistent criterion of the bloodline. We argue that the responses of Sephardi applicants complicate traditional notions of genealogical inclusion, unveiling instead a multiplicity of meanings attached to identity, belonging, and contemporary citizenship. While Spain and Portugal’s offer of what we call “restorative citizenship” requires the demonstration of biological and genealogical certainties, we argue that those seeking Spanish or Portuguese nationality complicate, expand, and sometimes subvert state constructions of citizenship as well as transform their own identities and belonging. More than recuperating a lost Spanish or Portuguese identity, many Sephardi descendants are discovering or deepening their ties to ancestral history and culture. Sephardi genealogy is also being mobilized in a contemporary global and European context in which citizenship and belonging are no longer defined exclusively by nation state territoriality, but rather through claims to new hybrid, multiple, and flexible identities.